Google Books Deal Blocked

Judge's ruling: Amended Settlement Agreement "not fair, adequate, and reasonable"

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Barring more legal maneuvering, the proposed Google Books Settlement – which would have cleared the way for Google to scan, digitize, and distribute of millions of in-copyright but out-of-print works – will not stand as is. This afternoon, Judge Denny Chin rejected the settlement, agreeing with opponents that it would give Google an unfair advantage.

U.S. Circuit Judge Chin expressed his opinions in a court document refreshingly light on legalese. He wrote, “While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA [Amended Settlement Agreement] would simply go too far. It would permit this class action . . . to implement a forward-looking business arrangement that would grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books, without permission of the copyright owners.”

Then Chin continued, “Indeed, the ASA would give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case.”

Finally, the judge finished, “I conclude that the ASA is not fair, adequate, and reasonable. As the United States and other objectors have noted, many of the concerns raised in the objections would be ameliorated if the ASA were converted from an ‘opt-out’ settlement to an ‘opt-in’ settlement.”

Google hasn’t yet said much in response. It’s possible the search giant will follow Chin’s opt-in suggestion; it would almost certainly be the quickest and easiest way to resolve the matter, which has been in lawyers’ hands for years.

Or perhaps, given that Google is in no apparent hurry and has plenty of cash, the company will appeal Chin’s decision.

As always, we’ll be sure to continue following the situation.

Google Books Deal Blocked
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  • http://www.realestateofcebu.com realestateofcebu.com

    Search giant knows over and under what they are cooking :)

  • Joao S. O. Bueno

    It looks like you are missing a major, major point in there. The great thing about google books project is exactly bringing to light out of print and orphan works, today locked away from public view due to copyright issue. Orphan works mean, works for which it is currently not possible to contact the copyright retainers.
    Switching to an “opt-in” policy basically defeats the whole idea – inthis case Google books would be just one more publisher on market, and would have no weight as a culture keeper.

  • Alan

    “Oprt in” is just the status quo — they don’t need any judgement to do that. That would mean that the millions of books published decades ago, whose publishers have gone out of business, where there is no way to identify the current copyright owner — would stay in limbo, for fear of someone suing at some time in the future. Opt out is a minor inconvenience for those authors who object; and it allows a great good in making out of print books available to readers. As well of course making money for Google.

    • Maarten

      Well something should be done about Orphan works, this is not the way to do it.
      This should be a mater of copyright law and/or government policy and not a deal between some copyright holders and a single corporation.

  • Blzddmzl

    Yes, there are possibilities that Google would have been able to make lots of money through this deal which unfortunately has been blocked and might have monopoly the market too but I think that would have been the best compliment to the authors or copyrights who are lost either for some or other reason.

    At least we would have been able to view those. Just imagine our dilemma, we even do not know what we have lost as we are unaware what these books hold.

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